The worst will be first.
CAA Manitoba officially launched its annual 'worst roads' campaign Tuesday.
Potholes typically generate the most buzz (and damage to vehicles), but officials at CAA Manitoba are hoping to alter the focus this time around.
"It is so much more than just potholes," Mike Mager, president and CEO of CAA Manitoba, said. "It's about identifying the grossly neglected roads in our city and drawing attention to the problem. Quick fixes like pothole patching aren't working anymore. We need to find big-picture solutions. "It's an opportunity for people to voice their concerns -- maybe even vent -- about the state of our roads.
"It's also an opportunity for the politicians to hear these concerns and respond accordingly."
CAA insists the program is not just an outlet to grumble about craters on your street. It's about the overall state of the roads and highways in the province and how this crumbling infrastructure impacts the daily lives of Manitobans. Things such as driver safety, traffic congestion, proper signage and even the synchronization of traffic lights are all up for discussion, a conversation Mager hopes can stimulate some urgency at the civic and provincial government levels.
He said while CAA Manitoba doesn't support the recent PST increase, he's happy to see some of the revenue destined for future road and highway improvements.
"We applaud the province for listening to the concerns of motorists and what Manitobans have to say about our roads," Mager said. "On the other hand, the city's response has been concerning. I don't want to say they're doing nothing -- that's not the case, they are filling potholes -- but that's not what it's about.
"It's about renewing and reinvesting in the infrastructure. We haven't seen a lot of that from the city side."
Mager admitted he's embarrassed when visitors travel from the airport to destinations inside Winnipeg.
"We've got the Junos coming to Winnipeg this week. Just imagine driving down Sargent or Wellington, your first time in Winnipeg, feeling those potholes. Road conditions in the city can really undermine the first impression we want to make to visitors," he said.
Manitobans can vote for their worst road nominee on the CAA Manitoba website (caamanitoba.com/worstroads) or on the association's Facebook page. People can be specific in their voting, as well, pinpointing a certain section of street and what problems face motorists in that stretch. Voting ends April 23.
Last year, more than 5,000 votes were cast for 696 different roads in Manitoba. The 2013 'winner' was Victoria Avenue in Brandon, a road that is scheduled for repairs this spring.
St. James Street, an obstacle course of potholes and neglected concrete year-round in Winnipeg, has finished at or near the top of the list the last two years. After being named Manitoba's worst road in 2012, the rundown thoroughfare finished second last year.
The other Winnipeg roads identified in the campaign last year included Berry Street, Ness Avenue, King Edward Street, Inkster Boulevard, Pembina Highway and Fraser's Grove. In most of these cases, potholes and crumbling pavement were given as the primary issues for motorists.